D. John McCarthy for School Committee
According to our selectman Bob Boilard;
A $1.726 Billion Dollar shortfall or 6.5% from last years state revenues. I guess we can expect cuts in education and municipal aide. This surely could lead to layoffs and furloughs. Lastly, expect a large state tax increase for FY21. Time to tighten the belt!
Of course the best way to get more tax money is to end the kick down! Open up businesses and get people working so taxes will start flowing in.
But, there will have to be budget cuts. We need someone on the school committee that u deratands that we can’t just grow the school budget year after year. I am that person.
Zero deaths in Massachusetts ages 0-19. Ages of school children in HWRSD. Do we need masks, social distancing, double sessi
Q. What specifically makes you the best candidate in this race?
As a former member, secretary, vice chair, and chairman of the school committee I can hit the ground running. I hold Master’s Degrees in Educational Technology and an MBA from UMass Amherst and I am an advocate for the use of technology to improve educational outcomes and choice and holding the line on expenses. I was the chair of the technology sub-committee on the new high school and made certain that when it was opened it had a state-of-the-art technology infrastructure. I worked to control costs e.g. exploring privatizing food services, that led to substantial savings without actually going private. I am not committed to the status quo. I am a team player, but wasn’t afraid to vote NO and not be a rubber stamp. Just because we have taught the same way since 1635, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t explore new proven ways to do a better less expensive job.
Q. Is academic achievement at an adequate level in the district? What policies would you support that would enhance or maintain it?
We perform well, with a A- and 2nd in the county in 2020 rating, but there is always room for improvement. In spite of the higher pay for our teachers, Longmeadow out performs our district. They were not only rated A+ and #1 in the Hampden County, they were rated #9 in the state vs. our 55 rating. So higher pay doesn’t necessarily translate into better performance so we need to take that off the table as a way of improving performance. The biggest factor, 50%, in these rating is Academics Grade. We need to work hard to help the underachieving students to do better. That means special attention and help needs to be given to those students, without neglecting the higher achieving students. Resources that do this are important such as reading experts and use of technology
Q. With declining student enrollment effecting both state funds and the assessments to the towns, what policies or initiatives do you support that could limit yearly budget impacts?
Of course the biggest expense in most organizations is labor. Our teachers are already about the highest paid in the area, but that doesn’t stop them from asking for more pay and better benefits. We have to be competitive to attract the best teachers, but we also have to be realistic about our budgets and what the taxpayers can afford. We need to take another look at pay and benefits, privatizing some services, and money savers like dual enrollment, on line courses, and early graduation
We also need to look at different revenue streams besides taxes. We could offer continuing education courses; we have very limited offerings now. The swimming pool is such an expensive luxury that the state wouldn’t subsidize it when the new MRHS was built. My motion to have a separate vote on it was over ridden so we had to pay 100% of the original cost as well as all of the high maintenance costs. Why can’t we open it up to the public before and after school and charge reasonable fees to help pay for the upkeep.
Q. With the current pandemic forcing students and teachers to work from home, what policies will you support to enhance the digital literacy and privacy needs of students and staff?answer in 150 words or fewer)
All of our students are what some educators like to call digital natives. I consider myself a digital native as I took my first college courses in computer programing in 1970 and computer use in business and digital photography in the early 1980’s, but some older teachers, called digital immigrants, still need incorporate technology into their curriculum. The model of a teacher standing in front of a classroom and lecturing them that was practiced in the Commonwealths first High School Boston Latin in 1635. The pandemic forced everyone to adopt new methods, but unfortunately union contracts prevented some paralegals from participating but they were paid anyway. Union contracts are a brake on that are not offered in or schools. This is especially important in middle and high school, but could even be applied to our youngest students who are at an age where it is easiest to learn new languages.